2013-08-02 / Top Stories

Ferry Will Make Brooklyn Stop

By Katie McFadden

Now stopping in Brooklyn: the Rockaway ferry adds a new stop and a new ridership constituency to its daily service. Photo Dan Guarino. Now stopping in Brooklyn: the Rockaway ferry adds a new stop and a new ridership constituency to its daily service. Photo Dan Guarino. The Rockaway ferry is being expanded once again, but this time it’s just to add a stop in Brooklyn, which means the ride may become slightly longer for Rockaway residents, but the chance of the ferry becoming a more permanent form of transportation has a higher possibility.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced on Tuesday that the current Rockaway Ferry Service to and from Manhattan will be making an extra stop at the 58th Street Brooklyn Army Terminal in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. The Brooklyn stop is being added as the MTA will shut down R Train service between Brooklyn and Manhattan for 14 months, starting on August 2nd.

The Montague Tubes of the R Train between Court Street and Whitehall Street will be closed until October, 2014 as the stations sustained significant flood damage during Hurricane Sandy. The MTA estimates that the tunnels were flooded from floor to ceiling with 27 million gallons of saltwater. Brooklynites will be forced to turn to other transit options, which has the city concerned about overcrowded trains.

To alleviate that problem, commuters can choose to hop on the ferry for a $2, 15- minute ride to Lower Manhattan starting August 5th.

With subsidies totaling $3.5 million so far from the New York City Economic Development Corporation, the ferry operates through Seastreak.

“The addition of the Brooklyn Army Terminal stop to the pilot Rockaway Ferry service will provide commuters affected by the upcoming subway suspension with an affordable transit option,” New York City Economic Development Corporation Executive Director Kyle Kimball said in a media release. “The pilot ferry service has already assisted thousands of New Yorkers affected by Hurricane Sandy, and this additional service will help secure the long-term recovery of the Rockaways, Sunset Park, and other neighborhoods hardesthit by Hurricane Sandy.”

The Rockaway ferry service began in November, when Sandy knocked out the A train.

Due to high demand and high ridership, the ferry, which was set to be discontinued once the A train returned, has been extended twice and is set to continue at least until Labor Day.

The ferry service has allowed for more than 107,000 passenger trips since it started.

“Building upon our existing Rockaway ferry service will provide a critical transit option to assist Brooklyn residents during disruptions to the R train,” said Mayor Bloomberg in a media release. “Ridership numbers on the City’s ferry network have demonstrated this remains a popular mode of transportation for residents across the City, and we are pleased to continue to expand this network and build upon our commitment to help New Yorkers recover from Hurricane Sandy.”

For Rockaway, the addition of the Brooklyn stop will mean that the ride from Beach 108th Street to Pier 11 and East 34th Street in Manhattan, will be slightly longer and a bit more crowded once the Brooklyn crew is picked up, but the longer commute may be a fair trade for a possible extension of the ferry service. The Brooklyn Army Terminal is along the current route between Rockaway and Manhattan, so the added time shouldn’t be significant. According to the new schedule, the ferry will only dock in Brooklyn for five minutes before departing and the ride between Rockaway and the first stop of Pier 11 will still take under an hour for most trips, making it a much shorter ride than the commute on the A train.

Currently, the ferry service is set to end on Labor Day, which has some Brooklynites concerned, but with the addition of the Brooklyn stop to replace the R Train service, which will be out until 2014, the ferry service could be extended beyond summer, which means good news for Rockaway riders who are rooting for a permanent boat ride.

In any event, the service will likely have both Rockawayites and Brooklynites demanding its continuance. However nothing is assured.

The City will reevaluate the service and its ridership as the Labor Day deadline approaches to determine if the ferry will continue beyond the summer.

The EDC will be keeping close track of the ridership numbers.

The Rockaway ferry service will continue with trips leaving five minutes earlier than the previous schedule.

For more schedule information, check out www.seastreakusa.com.

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